Authors: Darby Karchut
Praise for Finn Finnegan
Winner of the 2014 IPPY Silver Medal for Juvenile Fiction
“Overall, a great choice for adventure-loving readers who prefer their battle scenes with a hefty dose of ancient weaponry, ground-fighting skills, and just a touch of magic.”
School Library Journal
“If Lloyd Alexander had written
The Ranger's Apprentice
, the result might have been something like
âMike Mullin, author of
“As with all of Darby Karchut's books,
is driven by its fully developed and highly realistic charactersâ¦a fresh new read dealing with Celtic myth and legend.”
Praise for Gideon's Spear
“It's rare to find a sequel that raises the bar, but ye gods! Karchut has done it with
. Loads of action and humor, and well as a formidable new enemy, will keep readers turnings the pages right to the end of Finn MacCullen's latest adventures.”
âJeannie Mobley, author of
Searching for Silverheels
is packed with friendship, adventure, humor, and mysteryâeverything needed for an entertaining and page-turning read.”
âLindsay Eland, author of
Scones and Sensibility
Summer of Sundays
“This book was everything I looked for in the sequelâsome (but not all) loose ends tied up, action-packed pages, and the amazing characters I had come to love.”
A Belle's Tales
Copyright Â© 2015 by Darby Karchut
Sale of the paperback edition of this book without its cover is unauthorized.
Spencer Hill Press
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
Contact: Spencer Hill Press, PO Box 247, Contoocook, NH 03229, USA
Please visit our website at
First Edition: January 2015
The Hound at the Gate : a novel / by Darby Karchut â 1st ed.
Thirteen-year-old apprentice goblin hunter Finn (not Finnegan) MacCullen must fight a desperate battle in the Rocky Mountain wilds to save his friends and his beloved master, using nothing but his wits, his dagger, and one beat-to-heck pickup truck.
The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this fiction: Coleman, Express Mail, Gore-Tex, Jeep, Mason jar, MasterCard, NFL, Spider-Man, U2, Walmart, Xena Warrior Princess
Cover design by Lisa Amowitz
Interior layout by Marie Romero
ISBN 978-1-939392-48-0 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-939392-49-7 (e-book)
Printed in the United States of America
The Adventures of Finn MacCullen
The Song of the Tuatha De Danaan
I am a wind on the sea,
I am a wave of the ocean,
I am the roar of the sea,
I am a bull of seven battles,
I am a hawk on the cliff,
I am a teardrop of sunlight,
I am a gentle herb,
I am a boar enraged,
I am a salmon in a pool,
I am a lake in a plain,
I am the vigor of man,
I am the meaning of poetry,
I am a spear on the attack, pouring forth combat,
I am the god who fires your mind
Dedicated to the many Finnegans who have
graced my classroom over the years.
Also by Darby Karchut
The Adventures of Finn MacCullen series
(Spencer Hill Middle Grade, an imprint of Spencer Hill Press)
(2014 IPPY Silver Medal for Juvenile Fiction)
The Griffin Series
(Copper Square Studios)
(2011 Sharp Writ Book of the Year)
Non-fiction with Wes Karchut
Money and Teens: Savvy Money Skills
(2013 EIFLE Book of the Year)
Essential Money Guide: Simple, Sustainable Personal Finance for Real People
Words and Phrases
AmandÃ¡n (Ah-mon-dan): Goblin-like creatures
assegai (ass-a-guy): A short stabbing spear with a long spearhead traditionally used by the Zulu and other peoples of southern Africa
bodhran (bow-rawn): Irish frame drum played with a doubled-headed stick
ScÃ¡thach (SKa-ha): Goddess of the ancient Celts who trained their heroes and warriors
Tuatha De Danaan (tua day dhanna): An ancient warrior race of mythical beings from Ireland
CÃ©ad mile fÃ¡ilte (kad meel-a fall-sha):
A hundred thousand welcomes
Codladh sumh (culla sovh):
Ãireann go braugh (ERIN guh braw):
Faugh a ballagh (FOW-an BALL-ah):
Clear the Way
Gle mhaith (glay moth):
Poc sÃdhe (poke she):
Fey or fairy stroke
Crawling through the blackness of the goblins' tunnel, Finn kept his eyes locked on the opening, still yards away. It was strangely shaped, like a half-closed door; a muted light beyond created a rectangle of light around its edges. Oddly enough, he could even see the faint gleam of a brass doorknob.
He struggled along on hands and knees, muscles as heavy as the stone walls squeezing in on him.
Must have used my blood again
, he thought,
to fight them, but I don't remember cutting myself
. Each gulp of breath filled his mouth with the unwashed-armpit stink of goblin.
Something soft and musty-smelling, like a feather duster, fluttered against his face. He gasped. Another stroke along one cheek sent his skin a-tingling. Pressed belly-down against the floor of the tunnel, he twisted his head around and peered upward.
Crows, barely-to-be-seen black shapes, flapped on silent wings overhead. Every once in a while, one would fly into the ceiling and disappear, then reappear, as if swimming through the stone.
What the heck? How can theyâ?
As if Finn looking at them activated a secret signal, they began cawing. His gut knotted with fear. “Move yer arse,”
he whispered. Gathering his legs under him again, he crawled along as fast as he could.
A hand shot out of the darkness and grabbed his ankle.
Finn cried out.
“Looky what I gots,” a voice drawled in a tone of delight. “A Fey drumstick. With a whole De Danaan attached. I do likes me meat so fresh it's still kicking at the first bite.”
Before Finn could jerk free, a burning pain, like being jabbed with the tip of a crow's beak, ripped through his calf muscle as the goblin bit down. He screamed.
Light blasted through the tunnel, blinding him. He squeezed his eyes tight, both from the pain and to hide from the brilliance. A strangled cry tore his throat apart when a hand gripped his shoulder.
With a gasp, Finn blinked awake. He found himself lying on his side, panting, heart hammering so hard it shook the bed frame. The covers were tangled around him like a burial shroud; the sheet was wrapped tightly about one ankle. Brain still whirling from the nightmare, he peered up in confusion.
Framed in the light from the hallway, and with the door behind him still swinging from being flung open, his master, the Knight Gideon Lir, stood over him, knife in hand. His gaze swept the dimly lit room for threat. “Are you all right?”
“Itâ¦it bit me,” Finn slurred. Even as he spoke, he winced at the childish tone.
As if accustomed to being awakened by his apprentice screaming from across the hall in the dead of night, Gideon nodded in understanding. “I trust you bit it back.”
Finn grinned weakly. “Yes, sir.” Kicking free of the restricting covers, he sat up and began rubbing his still-throbbing leg. His master glanced once more around the room, then laid the knife on the bedside table. Within easy reach, Finn noticed. He pointed his
chin at the weapon. “Let me guessâyou sleep with it under your pillow.”
“Ye gods, no. âTwould be a fine way to lose an ear.” The Knight, bare-chested and wearing a worn pair of sweatpants, took a seat on the edge of the mattress. “I keep mine on the floor beside the bed.” He frowned. “Is your leg hurting?”
“Yes, sir. Well, kind of.”
“I guess. Feels better now.” Stretching it out, Finn wiggled his foot. “Why do I keep getting these?”
“Growing pains, nothing more. Kean suffered from them as well, when he was thirteen like yourself.”
Something in the simple way the Knight spoke of his long-dead son eased Finn's nerves. He blew out a long breath. “Sorry I woke you up.”
.” Gideon waved the apology aside. Raking fingers through hair as black as a crow's wing, the Knight shifted to a more comfortable seat on the bed. One eye, the same uncanny sky-blue as Finn's, gleamed in his lean face; the other was hidden by the shadows. A Celtic knot, the mark of Knighthood amongst their people, the immortal Celtic warriors known as the Tuatha De Danaan, was tattooed on his right shoulder. The tattoo's lines made a dark spider web along the swell of muscle. “Nightmare, eh?”
Finn nodded. “I don't know what's worseâfighting for my life against the AmandÃ¡n,” he said, using the goblins' more traditional name, “or
about fighting for my life against the AmandÃ¡n.” Leaning back against the headboard, he stretched out the neck of his T-shirt and wiped the sweat from his upper lip. He glanced out the window, closed against the cool night air. The face of the September sky was dusted with the stars of midnight, much like the freckles scattered across Finn's nose and cheeks.